First same-sex couples marry in New York State

Jonathan Mintz, Mayor Bloomberg presiding, marries John Feinblatt
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples, from retirees in Woodstock to college students in Manhattan, rushed to tiny town halls and big city clerks’ offices across New York to wed in the first hours of legal same-sex marriage on Sunday, turning a slumbering summer day into an emotional celebration.

They arrived by subway cars and stretch limousines, with children and with grandparents, in matching sequined ties and pinstriped suits, to utter words that once seemed unimaginable: I do.

Even those who had been together for decades, watching same-sex marriage become legal in surrounding states but suffer rejection in New York, said there was something unexpectedly moving and affirming about having their unions recognized by the state in which they live.

“We feel a little more human today,” Ray Durand, 68, said moments after marrying his partner, Dale Shield, 79, whom he met 42 years ago by a jukebox in a West Village bar.

The start of same-sex marriage in New York instantly doubled the number of Americans who live in states where gay and lesbian couples can wed. Gay-rights advocates, energized by their victory in New York — the sixth and largest state where it is legal — are turning their attention next to Maryland, but they face long odds in much of the country, where there are tougher legal and political obstacles…

Despite demonstrations, long lines and bureaucratic glitches, a spirit of patience and good humor pervaded. In Lower Manhattan, brides and grooms defiantly opened dozens of rainbow-colored umbrellas to block the protesters from view.

There were scenes, too, of striking public embrace. Outside marriage bureaus, police officers offered unsolicited congratulations, passers-by honked their horns and strangers tossed hand-made confetti at the newlyweds.

After a bruising multiyear legislative battle that ended when the State Senate approved same-sex marriage last month by a narrow margin, some of the state’s top elected officials seemed determined on Sunday to demonstrate public support for the new law.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hosted a party for same-sex marriage advocates in Manhattan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presided at a wedding in the backyard of Gracie Mansion, and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, visited the marriage bureaus in all five boroughs.

The bulk of the day’s marriages took place in New York City…Most were New York residents, but 107 of those who married in the city had arrived from states where same-sex marriage is not legal.

But even far from Manhattan, city and town offices opened their doors, sometimes just for a handful of weddings, on a day when they would ordinarily have been closed.

In Shandaken, a town of 3,100 in the Catskills, the town clerk issued just one marriage license, to a New Jersey couple: Katie Morgan, 37, a freelance television producer, and Brooke Barnett, 30, a wine consultant, who have a weekend home in Shandaken.

Three communities — Niagara Falls, Albany and Hudson — were so eager to marry gays and lesbians that they opened their doors shortly before midnight.

Ain’t nothing as American as civil rights proclaiming the all citizens may be married. Too bad the nation ain’t there, yet. But, then, that’s why Black Folks in Texas get to celebrate Juneteenth. Reactionaries and bigots will always try to keep the good news from spreading, change from happening.

2 thoughts on “First same-sex couples marry in New York State

  1. E Trams says:

    Someday in the United States, all citizens will have equal rights. I wish there were reprecussions for those states in which bigoted laws rule the land.

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